What Vinnies does
Every day, our workers and volunteers deliver aid to people unable to find secure and adequately paid work, and we witness the financial pressure and emotional toll this puts on them and their families. Vinnies assists people who are unemployed or underemployed by conducting home visits and helping with food and utility bills.
The St Vincent de Paul Society envisions an Australia that prides itself on its strong sense of justice and compassion. We aim to stand in solidarity with people who are living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage. We also strive to bring about greater awareness of the structural issues that give rise to inequality, for example, high unemployment, a weak social safety net and unfair tax structures. Learn more about these issues and how you can get involved below:
Breaking down barriers
Unemployment and underemployment
Unemployment exists not because people are not prepared to work: the reality is that the jobs are simply not available. Australia has a persistently high rate of long-term unemployment, with over half a million people (65 per cent of those on Newstart or Youth Allowances) unable to find work for over 12 months.
Sadly, for people caught in a cycle of precarious and insecure work, having a job does not necessarily mean escaping poverty either. There has been a rapid growth in low-paid, part-time and precarious work and it is having a devastating impact on families and individuals. One in four Australians and half of employed 15 to 24-year-olds are in casual jobs, without access to leave entitlements.
Vinnies calls on the Government to implement a comprehensive Jobs Plan to tackle unemployment and reverse the growing rates of underemployment. We need a plan with a long-term perspective and an integrated strategy that links education, training, and government investment in genuine job opportunities. Such a plan would ensure an adequate income for the unemployed and go beyond the ineffectual and haphazard policy measures that have demonised the long-term unemployed, such as Work for the Dole and punitive compliance requirements. Read our Federal Budget Priorities Statement 2018 for more details about what a successful Jobs Plan could entail.
A strong social safety net
We need increased and appropriately indexed support payments
Newstart has not increased in real terms in 24 years, but the cost of essentials has drastically increased. Vinnies supports the ACOSS campaign to #RaiseTheRateforGood so that everyone has enough to cover the basics of life, like a roof overhead and food on the table. The increase to JobSeeker during COVID-19 has meant that people have finally been able to access the essentials, like prescription glasses, a fridge and warm jumpers for their children to get through winter.
We cannot turn back to the brutality of people struggling to survive on the old Newstart rate of $40 a day.
Forcing people to live below the poverty line does not help people into jobs; rather, it acts as a barrier to employment and participation. Click here to view Vinnies new animation highlighting this very point; it shows how the old Newstart payment of just $38.99 per day was simply not enough to meet basic living costs. Inadequate indexation has meant that payments and allowances have fallen behind wages growth and behind the costs of essential services. Vinnies also supports the establishment of an independent payments review commission or tribunal to regularly assess the adequacy of all social security payments (including pensions, allowances, family payments and supplements) and indexation arrangements. Currently, there is no regular independent assessment of the adequacy of income support payments.
Compliance Activities and Compulsory Income Management
Onerous obligations and punishing sanctions do not create jobs or help people to find work. We therefore urge the Government to wind back, rather than expand, draconian participation requirements and sanctions for people who are unemployed. This includes a range of programs which target specific regions or population groups, such as compulsory income management, the cashless debit card, the ParentsNext Program and the Community Development Program. The proposed drug-testing trial is another measure that is expensive, lacks supporting evidence, and is likely to increase harms including stigma, marginalisation and poverty.
A fair and equitable tax system
The largest increase in the cost-of-living over the past six years has come, not from taxes, but from out-of-pocket expenses for services such as healthcare, childcare and education. At the same time, changes to the tax system have disproportionately benefited the wealthy and eroded government revenue. At Vinnies, we believe taxation is a profoundly moral matter and therefore we opposed personal and corporate income tax cuts in 2018. Tax is the primary means for ensuring the equitable distribution of wealth, as well as raising the public money that supports the community’s needs.
In addition to reforming taxes for investment income and superannuation, comprehensive action is needed to curb tax avoidance by removing the tax shelters and loopholes that stem from the inconsistent tax treatment of private trusts and companies. As a nation, we can only provide for those most in need if we structure our tax system to raise revenue fairly and sustainably.
- Read about the impact of low-income support here.
- Sign up to ACOSS's Raise the Raise for Good campaign.
- Read these personal accounts of people experiencing severe cost of living pressures.
- Donate or volunteer your time at a Vinnies shop or donate funds to our accommodation and support services around Australia.
For more information read our latest media releases.
- Submission on the Inadequacy of Newstart October 2019.
- Submission: Submission on the Income Management to Cashless Debit Card Transition Bill 2019. October 2019
- Briefing Paper: Drug testing income support recipients. September 2019
- Briefing Paper: What is the cashless debit card? September 2019
- Briefing paper: What's wrong with the cashless welfare card? May 2018
- Federal Budget 2018 May 2018
- Briefing paper: Are allowances adequate? April 2018
- Submission on Social Services Legislation Amendment (Drug Testing Trials) Bill 2018 April 2018
- Submission on the Cashless Debit Card Bill 2017 Nov 2017
- Submission on Social Services Legislation Amendment (Payment Integrity) Bill 2017 Aug 2017
- Submission on Social Services Legislation Amendment (Better Targeting Student Payments) Bill 2017. Aug 2017
- Submission Ending the Carbon Tax Compensation Bill 2017 July 2017
- Submission on Financial Wellbeing Capability services April 2017
- Submission on the Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform Bill 2017 March 2017
- 2017-18 Pre-Budget Submission February 2017
- Submission on the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Budget Repair) Bill 2016, September 2016
- Anti-poverty week 2016 activities
- Opinion piece by Dr John Falzon Waiting for the wealth to trickle down. June 23, 2016
- Opinion piece by Dr John Falzon Our youth needs a job plan, not a rip-off. May 17, 2016
- Submission on strengthening job seeker compliance November 26 2014
- Submission on the Extent of Income Inequality in Australia August 22 2014
- Submission to the Review of Australia’s Welfare System August 12 2014
- Submission to the inquiry on stonger penalities July 23 2014
- 2014-15 Federal Budget Submissions May 2014
- Concerns about the Commission of Audit January 2014
- Submission on Supporting More Australians into work June 12 2013
- Submission on Tackling Job Insecurity Bill 2012 February 1 2013
- Submission on Fair Incentives to Work Bill 2012 July 26 2012
- Response to questions at Fair Incentives to Work Inquiry June 25 2012
- Letter seeking an inquiry into sole parents legislation June 15 2012
- Submission to the Independent Inquiry on Insecure Work January 20 2012